The Mockingbird

Spot the Cannon

with 14 comments

A recent article in the Hardball times rated the outfield arms for last year based on how well they held runners from advancing and how many kills they got. Vernon Wells didn’t do so well – coming in 21st out of 25 CF with not a lot of holds – which is in line with the Fielding Bible says the last two seasons (yes I’m ripping off Bill James’ site one post after putting his head on an alcoholic’s body).

Vernon’s Arm (Fielding Bible)
Year Kills Innings Extra Base taken % Rank
2006 3 1290.1 .516 1
2007 3 1279.0 .637 28
2008 2 889.0 .679 35

Center fielders don’t get a lot of kills so Wells’ rate is actually above average over the last three years, but runners have been taking the extra base more and more often since 2007. His range has also gone from 4th to 10th to 32nd, but that’s another story

What I really want to know is if Alex Rios’ arm translates to center, but he doesn’t show up tin the THT arm rankings due to almost splitting his season in right and center (and typically comes at the very top). But here’s how his arm compares in right field to the three guys who are head and shoulders above the rest of THT’s leaderboard (which give a much higher value to kills than the Fielding Bible ranks shown):

Rios Comparison – RF, 2008
Year Kills Innings Extra Base taken % Rank
Alex Rios 3 820 .406 2
Hunter Pence 11 1366.1 .445 8
Ryan Ludwick 8 962.1 .396 1
Nick Markakis 14 1367 .503 14

The Hardball Times ratings give a much higher value to kills (they’re based on runs saved), which Rios has a mysteriously small number of (did I not pump my first more often than that last year on a missile to the plate?). However, Ryan Ludwick was the only fielder who runners were more afraid of.

Small sample size warnings all around, now here’s a similar comparison to the league leaders in runs saved for the time Rios spent in CF:

Rios Comparison – CF, 2008
Year Kills Innings Extra Base taken % Rank
Alex Rios 7 522.2 .574 19
Matt Kemp 8 825.2 .563 16
B.J. Upton 13 1248.2 .636 31
Shane Victorino 6 1195.1 .548 11

While in center field, Rios’ holding of runners was much more in the middle of the pack (the best Extra Basen Taken percentages for CF’s were in the mid .400s, lead by Mark Kotsay with  .434 ), but he was also apparently gunning down runners at a league-leading pace. So opposing baserunners were likely running more than they should have been, and Rios was making them pay. You know, if only he didn’t bizarrely gift-wrap home runs that should never have been home runs to the opposing team on a semi-regular basis, the Jays might have a really amazing defensive player out there…


Written by halejon

January 26, 2009 at 1:47 pm

Posted in Seriousness

14 Responses

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  1. I really hope Rios “puts it all together” at least once in his career. He was hatched from a spore, designed to excel at baseball.

    How do you feel about moving Wells to left, letting Snider play right?

    Lloyd The Barber

    January 26, 2009 at 11:32 pm

  2. Vernon’s arm has always been pretty crappy. But then how many balls (when he’s healthy) does he get to which then do not require a throw? A hell of a lot. Since the big contract, which hasn’t even kicked in yet, he’s a favourite piss-site for disgruntled Jays fans. We may not be able to afford him in the end (or want to) but he’s our best position player and I don’t see any AL centre fielder, aside from Sizemore, maybe, I’d rather have out there. He’s been injured two out of the last three years. Cut him some slack (and bury those OF assist numbers immediately, dude, what are you thinking?).

    K Connolly

    January 27, 2009 at 2:10 am

  3. Lloyd: I figure that’s inevitable – and unless this is just a blip from Wells, in a couple of years we’ll be talking about moving him to LF as a no-brainer, not because he’s particularly terrible but because Rios is hugely faster and Snider may as well play RF with the better arm. But for cash and other reasons I doubt Vernon leaves his post until he’s dead.

    Or maybe we should just trade Rios so he can be a really good CF somewhere instead of a slightly above-average corner OF on this team…


    January 27, 2009 at 10:46 am

  4. K: I know, I hate fueling the fire of the mouth breathers who hate Wells just because the team gave him a stupid contract…but in 2006 and before then his arm was ranked one of the best (and he had that reputation). I just want to know if he’s still injured or getting fat and old at 30?!


    January 27, 2009 at 10:56 am

  5. Which shoulder did Wells injure again? Ditto for his wrist… if either were on his throwing hand/arm, it isn’t unreasonable that his 2008 (and 2007 numbers for the shoulder) were affected by the injury.

    As for Wells’ range, I’m sure the hamstring injury influenced that… I believe he’ll rebound on defense next year and hopefully he’ll be able to put up a full season of his 2008 hitting.

    As for his contract, I don’t really think it is that stupid of a deal. I think it was a bad idea to make it as long as it was, but the average annual salary, based on his 2006 value, was about right (according to fan graphs his win value was worth $21M). The backloading/length however were probably necessary for Wells to give the team payroll flexibility in the first 3 years. I was definitely on the side of trading him during the 2006 off-season (mainly because of Rios)… but it isn’t hard to see Wells putting up a few more seasons close to his 2006 value. Then again much of that depends on injury.

    Christopher Taylor

    January 27, 2009 at 3:31 pm

  6. I know Vernon said in September of 08 how he came into the year out of shape, which may attribute to his arm and range problems.

    He said though that he hired a personnal trainer to try and get rid of those issues, not to mention he’ll get some WBC playing time.

    the expos

    January 27, 2009 at 4:13 pm

  7. Really? Who’d he say that to? Last time he played in the WBC it broke his string of slow starts…


    January 27, 2009 at 9:53 pm

  8. Both injuries were to Wells’ left arm. He broke the wrist on his glove hand diving for a catch you’ll recall (and held onto the ball by the way; if this were hockey we’d throw him a parade), and his left shoulder was injured, also on a catch, running into the wall in centre field. That definitely affected his hitting generally, and his power in particular, as he pulls most of his round-trippers. VW still gets around on the fastball inside. Cito just has to teach him to take a walk. Right now good pitchers know they don’t have to throw him a strike to get him out on the outside edge.

    K Connolly

    January 27, 2009 at 9:57 pm

  9. I dunno…check out the hot zone for Wells, which pitch f/x agrees with last year. He was just starting to get power back on the outer half when he got injured, but his contact % was high.

    There was also an Inside Edge thing last year that surprised me about how he was one of the best against offspeed pitches last season but mediocre against fastballs over the last few years. Go figure.


    January 27, 2009 at 10:15 pm

  10. Here it is:

    Late in the season, the Jays center fielder met with a representative from Athletes’ Performance, a sports performance company based in Phoenix, and hired a personal trainer who has moved to Texas to work with Wells twice a day. When Wells goes to Florida for spring training, the trainer will go, too, and he will continue to travel according to the Jays’ schedule throughout the season.”

    By the way the pitch F/X thing ended right after April finished, I think I’m just going to put some computer programmer at gunpoint, it will make life easier.

    Also Vernon is listed on the roster as well as Ryan(wonderful, more innings for him…) here:

    Vernon has some tough competetion though, but a few PA’s and just the workouts should be enough.

    the expos

    January 28, 2009 at 3:28 am

  11. For two years running Rios has been a very poor hitter as the CF. Some would chalk it up to sample size (350 PA) while others would say he’s more comfortable in RF not having to stress about his D.


    January 29, 2009 at 2:57 am

  12. I would be one of the ones harping on sample size…do we really think that a guy who has been working on his swing his whole life is going to go totally neurotic and lose his ability now that he has something slightly different to do in the field?


    January 29, 2009 at 3:16 am

  13. I don’t really care, but everything I’ve read has said that 350 AB means next to nothing. I’m sure there’s some sort of comfort factor that comes into play every time someone has to learn a new position, but his poorness in CF has been completely within random fluctuation.


    January 29, 2009 at 3:40 am

  14. More Hardball wants to know who has the hottest fans in baseball. We’ll be running a set of posts over the following weeks featuring images of each teams’ hotties, with a voting poll to crown a champion. We’re starting with the AL East and we’ll continue through the rest of the American League, then on to the National League. Sticking true to Major League Baseball’s roots, there will be an eight team playoff system where the winners of each division square off with addition of a wild card team to determine who wins the pennant and represents each league in the World Series of Hotness. Link-


    January 29, 2009 at 9:29 am

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